It’s important to make the right decisions when it comes to your Social Security benefits to ensure you receive the most benefits possible.
Most of us require a well-established plan for retirement, which we must diligently put into action to ensure we have enough savings for our future. Ensuring you maximize your Social Security benefits is essential for a comfortable retirement. To provide context, the average monthly retirement benefit in February 2023 was just $1,831.
Follow these tips to help you get the most out of your Social Security:
This tactic may seem apparent, but only some people contemplate it. You may be satisfied with your current job and expect a 3% increase in your annual salary. If you want to increase your income significantly, you could consider a few options. You could request a raise from your employer, apply for higher-paying positions within your current company, or look for higher-paying job opportunities elsewhere. The greater your income, the greater your future Social Security payments will be.
Consider a career change if you want a different (and more lucrative) line of work. Or undertake a second job for several years. Earning an additional $200 per week is more than $10,000 per year, which could be a significant annual addition to your retirement savings.
Observe that there is a Social Security earnings limit, formally known as the “Contribution and Benefit Base,” above which you are not taxed for Social Security and do not increase your future benefits. It tends to increase annually, and in 2023 it will be $160,200. Therefore, increasing your income from $200,000 to $225,000 will have little effect on your Social Security benefits if you are a high earner. The majority of us, however, have ample capacity for benefit enhancement.
Work for at least 35 years.
Next, ensure that you have worked and earned income for at least 35 years, as the formula used to calculate your benefits is based on your highest-earning 35 years. (These figures are, of course, adjusted for inflation.) Therefore, if you only labor for 30 years, five zeros will be incorporated into the calculation, resulting in a smaller payout.
Work beyond 35 years
Some individuals may be able to substantially increase their benefits by working for more than 35 years. This is how: If you earn significantly more than you did in the past (adjusted for inflation) after 35 years of work, each additional high-earning year will replace your lowest-earning year. That will increase the size of the benefit payment.
Apply for your benefits at the proper time.
Did you know that you can start receiving benefits at age 62? However, it’s important to note that you’ll only receive your full benefits when you reach your full retirement age. If you start collecting early, your payments will be more frequent, but the amount of each payment will be smaller. If you choose to wait beyond your full retirement age to collect your benefits, you can increase your benefits by approximately 8% for every year you delay up to age 70.
Delay is inappropriate for everyone, but it can be an effective strategy. Therefore, thoroughly consider the decision of when to begin receiving benefits.
It’s important to understand that your Social Security benefits will increase on their own over time through cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), regardless of any actions you may take to increase them. These allow retirees to maintain purchasing power.
COLAs are typically modest, ranging between 0% and 4% or 5%. We are currently experiencing a period of higher-than-usual inflation, so recent increases have been relatively significant: 5.9% in 2021 and 8.7% in 2022.
It’s worthwhile to devote some time to learning about Social Security and staying abreast of its developments to make wise Social Security decisions that help you maximize your benefits from the program.